Sunday, May 25, 2014

ARC Review: Once Tasted

Once Tasted (Silver Creek #2)



Three siblings, an extraordinary family, a lasting heritage—in the irresistible Silver Creek Ranch trilogy, they’ll fight for the land and the people they love.
 Everything has come easily to Reid Knowles, the middle son of a California ranching family. But his charmed life is suddenly complicated when his good friend and neighbor asks him to help run the winery next door. His neighbor’s niece, Mia Bodell, is in charge—and she has made it clear that she’d rather be roped to a steer than to Reid Knowles. Never one to back down from a challenge, Reid vows to win her trust.
 Her life marked by loss, Mia knows that nothing comes easily—love included. In high school, her heart was crushed by Reid, and even though years have passed, the hurt lingers. Mia is achingly aware that the teen heartthrob has matured into a devastatingly handsome playboy, and the budding winemaker refuses to let down her guard. But one taste of unbridled passion changes things. From Reid’s first intoxicating kiss to his unexpectedly tender seduction, Mia is swept into a passionate affair that could tear her heart to pieces . . . or give her everything she has ever wanted.
Themes: cowboys, contemporary
Rating:  4.25 stars
Heat Rating: 
Well a hot cowboy who’s got a heart of gold and the determination of an angry donkey… what could make for a better hero? I was granted the honor of being able to read both of the current stories in this series in advance of their release and am thrilled to say that I loved both novels.  This family is extraordinarily dynamic and obviously loving, but their impact on their community is just as great and seeing how loved they were by their friends and neighbors reminds me of the way people can come together in the true sense of community to be a family. Seeing the second brother in the Knowles family fall under the spell of his sweet but terribly shy neighbor, Once Tasted takes you on a journey through the creation of wine from start to finish,  teaching you while entertaining you and sharing the power of love. I hadn't read anything by Laura Moore before this opportunity but I can honestly say she has made it to my favorite authors shelf and I will be looking forward not only to what’s next for the Knowles’s, but also whatever new worlds she might invite us into in her imagination.
Reid is my favorite kind of cowboy, one who rides steel horses as well as he rides his flesh and blood ones.  Riding back into town on his Harley he instantly causes a stir and is completely oblivious of all the attention he gets or the wake of hearts he leaves pattering. While is he definitely gorgeous, he’s not arrogant with it, instead he is as down to earth as can be for a dedicated bachelor always looking for the next woman to bring fun into his…life. Dealing with the fallout from the deal his parents made with their neighbor, Reid is determined to be there for Mia in every way as they embark on a partnership in their business and an all new unexplored relationship territory.  I loved seeing that he could look past the underplayed exterior Mia portrays to the world to the wildcat beneath her armor and the vulnerable heart buried deep.  He uses his not inconsiderable skills of seduction and persuasion to bring Mia out of her shell, never imagining that he would lose his heart to her in the process. When Mia’s world comes crashing down around her, though she tries to push him away, Reid knows that only by being there for her in every aspect will he ever stand a chance of proving his love to her and having a chance for a future with her.
Mia was a bit more difficult to peel down the layers to her true personality.  There are so many layers of insecurity wrapped around her after years of being beat down by her cousin and others that her own light is deeply hidden from the world.  She is obviously a very intelligent woman, with skills that could bring her business far into the future and make it shine, but her fears have always kept her from achieving her true potential.  When her uncle leaves her in charge, abruptly moving on with his life, Mia is left floundering like a baby bird kicked from the nest.  But with Reid’s help and the support of her team, friends, and Reid’s family she begins to trust in herself and spread her wings to fly.  Her feelings for Reid begin to deepen, making the crush she’s always had on him into something much deeper and more robust, like a finely aged wine, and when she begins to accept that love, her fears are thrust to the forefront of her mind making her question their relationship.  When tragedy strikes, her fears and worries lead her to push Reid away, hoping to protect herself and him from danger, while keeping her feelings hidden allows her to keep her heart form being broken.  Only when she sees just how dedicated Reid really is to her, she regrets every hurtful thing she has said to him and determines to share those feelings, even if the love isn’t reciprocated, showing her development into a woman of true strength and character.  
I really enjoyed learning about all the aspects of wine-making that were shared in this story.  The first book in the series focused more on the ranch and the animals that were the Knowles’s livelihood, and though there was plenty of that here, the focus was on the vineyard, allowing for an all new and exciting settling while still keeping things close to home.  Getting to see both Reid and Mia come into their own as they fell in love was a great example of love making a person better even if you never realize it is happening.  Mia was a great character as she blossoms into a strong and sensual woman, willing to do anything to make her business succeed and to find her place in the world, as well as becoming a woman that Reid can love. Getting to see Reid come into his own was exciting too; he was able to branch out a bit from his family and use his learned experiences, applying his business know-how to the vineyard to help Mia and also give himself pride in meeting and exceeding at a challenge.  The love between Reid and Mia takes them both by surprised, even though readers can see they are meant to be from the beginning.  They fight their attraction to one another and each carry heavy regrets about their past together, but when their forced interactions quickly turn to passionate exploration, the heat burns the pages up and leaves you breathless with anticipation to see what passionate adventure they’ll get up to next.  I enjoyed every minute of this story and am very much looking for to what’s coming next, which I suspect and hope will be Quinn’s story, but whoever it might be, returning to Silver Creek Ranch and the beautiful landscape it inhabits will certainly be no hardship. Brava, Ms. Moore, Brava.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

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